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- Amanda - 40/40 -


moccasins were blooming I'd carry some."

"Pink--with your red hair!" The boy exercised his brotherly prerogative of frankness.

"Yes, pink! Whose wedding is this? I'd carry pink moccasins and wear my red hair if they--if the two curdled! But I'll have to find some other wild flowers."

He laughed. "Then I'll help you pick them."

"Martin and I are going for them, thanks."

"Oh, don't mention it! I wouldn't spoil that party!" He began whistling his old greeting whistle. He had forgotten it for several years but some chord of memory flashed it back to him at that moment.

At the sound of the old melody Amanda stepped closer to the boy. "Phil," she said tenderly, "you make me awful mad sometimes but I like you a lot. I hope you'll be as happy as I am some day."

"Ah," he blinked, half ashamed of any outward show of emotion. "You're all right, Sis. When I find a girl like you I'll do the wedding ring stunt, too. Now, since we've thrown bouquets at each other let's get to work. What may I do if I'm debarred from the flower hunt?"

"Go ask Millie."

"Gee, Sis, have a heart! She's been love struck, too. Regular epidemic at Reists'!" But he went off to offer his services to the hired girl.

As Amanda dressed in her white silk gown she wished she were beautiful. "Every girl ought to have beauty once in her life," she thought. "Even for just one hour on her wedding day it would be a boon. But then, love is supposed to be blind, so perhaps Martin will think I am beautiful to-day."

She was not beautiful, but her eyes shone soft and her face was expressive of the joy in her heart as she stood ready for the ceremony which was the consummation of her love for the knight of her girlhood's dreams.

It would be impossible to find a more beautiful setting for a wedding than the Reist cherry orchard that May day. There were rows of trees, with their fresh young green and their canopies of lacy bloom through which the warm May sunshine trickled like gold. As Amanda and Martin stood before the waiting clergyman and in the presence of relatives, friends and neighbors, faint breezes stirred the branches and fugitive little petals loosened from the hearts of the blossoms and fell upon the happy people gathered under the white glory of the orchard.

Several robins with nests already built on broad crotches of the cherry trees hovered about, their black eyes peering questioningly down at the unwonted visitors to the place. Once during the marriage service a Baltimore oriole flashed into a tree near by, his golden plumage made more intense against the white blossoms. With proud assurance he demonstrated his appreciation of the orchard and perched fearlessly on an outer bough while he whistled his insistent, imperious, "Here, here, come here!"

As the words, "Until death do us part"--the old, inadequate mortal expression for love that is deathless--sounded in that white-arched temple Amanda thought of Riley's "Song of the Road" and its

"To Heaven's door, and _through_, my lad, O I will walk with you."

After the ceremony the strains of a Wedding March fell upon the ears of the people gathered in the orchard.

Amanda's lips parted in pleasure. "That's Phil's work!" she cried and ran behind the clump of bushes from where the music seemed to come. Philip was stooping to grind the motor of Landis's Victrola.

"Phil, you dear!"

"Aren't I though!" he said frivolously. "I had the heck of a time getting this thing here while you were dressing and keeping it hidden. I had to bribe little Charlie twice to keep him from telling you. He was so sure you'd want to know all about it."

"It's just the last touch we needed to make this perfect."

"Leave it to your devoted brother. Now go back and receive the best wishes or congratulations or whatever it is they give the bride."

Later there was supper out under the trees. A supper at which Millie, trim in her new gray Mennonite garb and white cap, was able to show her affection for the bride, but at which the bride was so riotously happy that she scarcely knew what she was eating.

Of course there was a real bride's cake with white icing. Amanda had to cut it and hand out pieces for the young people to dream upon.

After a while the bride slipped away, took off her white dress and put on a dark suit. Then she and Martin dodged rice and were whirled away in a big automobile.

The other members of the household had much to occupy their hands for the next hour, setting things to rights, as Millie said, the while their hearts and thoughts were speeding after the two who had smiled and looked as though no other mortals had ever known such love.

When the place was once more in order and the Landis family, the last guests, had gone off in the darkness, the children flinging back loud good-nights, Mrs. Reist, Philip, Millie and Uncle Amos sat alone on the porch and talked things over.

"It was some wedding, Mother," was the opinion of the boy.

"Yes." "Prettiest thing I ever seen," said the hired girl.

"Yes, so it was," Uncle Amos agreed. "But say, Millie, it's dandy and moonlight. What d'you say to a little walk down the road? Or are you too tired?"

"Ach, I'm not tired." And the two went off in the soft spring night for a stroll along the lane, Millie in her gray Mennonite dress, Uncle Amos in his plain suit of the faith. The two on the porch saw her homely face transfigured by a smile as she looked up into the countenance of the man who had brought romance into her life, then they saw Uncle Amos draw the hand of Millie through his arm and in that fashion they walked along in the moonlight, the man, contented and happy, holding the hand of the woman warmly in his grasp. To them, no less than to the youthful lovers, was given the promise of happiness and in their hearts was ringing Amanda's and Martin's pledge:

"Sure, I will walk with you, my lad, As love ordains me to,-- To Heaven's door, and _through_, my lad, O I will walk with you."


Amanda - 40/40

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